I had found a Cribellate Orb Weaver (also known as the Featherlegged Orb Weaver)- probably a Uloborus glomosos.
This is a very harmless looking spider, isn't it? However, its scientific name of Uloborus is from the Greek word ouloboros which translates to "with deadly bite." Gulp. And I had touched it. (source)
Fortunately, in a scientific naming irony- this spider doesn't have any venom- which is very UNLIKE most other spiders. The cribellate spiders are unique in that aspect. Many species of spiders utilize venom to aid in the subduction of their prey- but NOT the Cribellate Orb Weavers. "Deadly bite" indeed. Hmmph.
Wikipedia has the following description regarding cribellum: A cribellum is a kind of comb-like device in certain spiders, used to separate fibers of silk drawn from its spinnerets into many extremely fine fibers, giving it a wooly structure. Those fibers are so small in diameter that prey insects easily become entangled in them, without any glue needed. The spiders then bite them before they can get away.
The comb-like appendages on the two front legs are visible in the accompanying photo. That may explain why the front legs are disproportionally longer than many other spiders- they probably aid the spider in the combing of the web strands.
Nature is cool- isn't it? The following is a review of some of the interesting facts about this spider:
- It is unique among spiders because it doesn't possess venom glands
- But, its scientific name is Uloborus which is Greek for "with deadly bite."
- It has two front legs are much longer than its other legs and they are equipped with "combs" that the spider uses for combing its web to separate the strand fibers to aid in ensnaring its prey.
- It doesn't have a sticky web like many other orb weaver spiders.
- Its web is built parallel to the ground (rather than perpendicular like most other orb weavers)
- It rests in its web upside down- much like the Mabel Orchard spider.